Join 3,520 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Save the Planet, One Macaque at a Time
November 16, 2004 1:56 PM   Subscribe

Adopt an Ex-Lab Experiment Monkey
The BUAV (British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection) is sponsoring an adoption program to help care for some 50 macaques that had been owned by a lab in Thailand to be used for scientific experiments. After some publicity, they were pressured into releasing the little monkeys just prior to their last experiment that would have killed them all.
posted by fenriq (33 comments total)

 
oh boo fucking hoo
posted by rxrfrx at 2:08 PM on November 16, 2004


Safe to say that you're not going to be adopting one then, rxrfrx?
posted by fenriq at 2:14 PM on November 16, 2004


I was hoping this would allow me to actually keep the monkey in my house and train it to use the TV remote.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:22 PM on November 16, 2004


If animal rights protesters insist on shutting down animal experimentation in the UK, then it will inevitably go to places with worse ethical safeguards such as Thailand. Ho hum. And let's not get into the reasons why scientists conduct experiments on animals either - it ain't for fun.
posted by adrianhon at 2:39 PM on November 16, 2004


I would be constantly afraid of it developing monkey super powers, or monkey telepathy or something.
posted by Capn at 3:06 PM on November 16, 2004


And let's not get into the reasons why scientists conduct experiments on animals either - it ain't for fun.

Right, they do it because it's a convenient way of extracting obscene salaries from taxpayers without having to do any real work or contribute to human advancement.
posted by cmonkey at 3:18 PM on November 16, 2004


Capn, why that would be cool! Dial M for monkey!.
posted by dabitch at 3:20 PM on November 16, 2004


Scientists? Obscene salaries? They wish! Scientists, in the UK especially, would get more money if they went into private industry or got a job in finance, as many of them are capable of. Plus you're going to have to do better than saying they don't do any real work or contribute to human advancement. There is a very long list of significant scientific and medical discoveries that were only possible with animal experimentation, from immunisation to neurological drugs, and the argument that we can use computer modelling or tissue cultures to do away with using animals in the next few decades is sadly mistaken.
posted by adrianhon at 3:51 PM on November 16, 2004


hummm. i am currently writing a research paper about the use of non-human primates as reliable test subjects for human vaccines and drugs and would like to see some proof/research supporting what adrianhn is suggesting.
posted by jessica at 4:41 PM on November 16, 2004


There is a very long list of significant scientific and medical discoveries that were only possible with animal experimentation, from immunisation to neurological drugs,

There's a list twice as long of drugs and procedures that were "proven" safe by teams of vivisectionists that ended up killing people. And a list an order of magnitute longer detailing worthless experiments that just served to keep the vivisectionist moving on the academic publishing treadmill.

Of course, in the vivisectionist's mind, white coat welfare is more important than saving lives.
posted by cmonkey at 5:52 PM on November 16, 2004


The release was amazing to watch. The first thing the monkeys did was hold each other, deprived for so long of the comfort of touch. Very soon afterwards, they gleefully re-discovered their natural climbing abilities amongst the trees.

Thanks, fenriq. I've been taking things for granted lately and feeling sorry for myself, but reading about something like this--monkeys kept in solitary cages for ten years--always puts human life back in perspective.

Completely apart from the debate over whether animal experimentation is ethical, there is humane treatment and there is inhumane.
posted by Shane at 6:07 PM on November 16, 2004


Yeah, I'd adopt one of these monkeys, but I just know it wouldn't be too long before I ended up with "MONKEY HATE CLEAN" scrawled on my bathroom wall.
posted by MrBadExample at 9:35 PM on November 16, 2004


Scientists try not to experiment on animals unless they have to. To get permission, you have to fill out all kinds of forms, conform to lots of extra rules, spend some extra money, and demonstrate that you need to work with animals to accomplish your research objectives. It's a lot of extra work to go to. It's not something you embark upon unless you have to.

When dealing with more advanced animals, like monkeys, it gets even more complicated. There are extra ethical safeguards and more complicated rules, plus biohazard issues. And of course, they cost a lot more to acquire and to keep. You REALLY don't want to have to use higher level animals if you don't have to.

Basically, my point is that scientists don't do this stuff frivolously. It's not just something they do for grants; it's easy enough to study bacteria, or something else that's simpler to deal with, if you just want a subject for a grant proposal. Usually animals are used for things like pathology, psychology, or neuroscience research for which other options are either dramatically inferior or completely non-existant.

It was good of animal rights activists to take us to this point, as animals were treated abysmally in the past. Their treatment has substantially improved (in the US and Europe, at least.) But shutting down animal research totally would be disasterous; how else do you study something like how potential new AIDS cures react in the body? If there's any other good way, we'd like to know.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:53 PM on November 16, 2004


But shutting down animal research totally would be disasterous; how else do you study something like how potential new AIDS cures react in the body?

Well, seeing as infecting chimps with HIV-1 and monkeys with SIV has proven to be a total dead end, we'd be right about in the same spot then, eh?
posted by cmonkey at 11:31 PM on November 16, 2004


Sure, cmonkey. But... hmmm... this could take a while.

o No Polio vaccine
o More rh disease
o Less AIDS relief
o No homocystinuria treatments to prevent atherosclerosis
o More peridontal disease
o No hepatitis A vaccine
o Poorer air quality (and less environmentalism)
o Increased (by 1 million per year) blind population

But wait, there's much more:

o Most of the nation's one million insulin-dependent diabetic individuals wouldn't be insulin dependent--they would be dead.
o 60 million Americans would risk death from heart attack, stroke or kidney failure from lack of medication to control high blood pressure.
o Doctors would have no chemotherapy to save the 70 percent of children who now survive acute lymphocytic leukemia.
o 100,000 more wheelchair bound
o 7,500 newborns per year with cerebral palsy
o There would be no kidney dialysis to extend the lives of thousands of patients with end-stage renal disease.
o NO anesthesia. Yep, open heart surgery while you're awake and kicking. Good luck.
o Instead of being eradicated, smallpox would continue unchecked and many others would join the two million people killed by the disease.
o Millions of dogs, cats, and other pets and farm animals would have died from anthrax, distemper, canine parvovirus, feline leukemia, rabies, and more than 200 other diseases now preventable because of animal research.

You thought that was all, right? No, there's more.

o No treatment of pellagra.
o No ability to diagnose and treat typhoid fever.
o Mumps would never be discovered.
o Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, gone.
o Poor tranquilizers
o No chemo.
o Increased yellow fever.
o Poor understanding of the vascular system
o Increased german measles.
o Cortisone for therapy instead of fat lips? HA!
o No corneal transplants.
o No leprosy treatment.
o Poor understanding of viruses in general.
o More rejection of transplants.
o No understanding of how our eyes perceive information.
o Difficulty diagnosing depression, anxiety, and phobias.
o Increased self-starvation.
o Lots more kids with lazy eye.
o What's parkinsons? Ehhhhhhhhhhh?
o Heart transplants, Lung transplants? Heresy I say!
o Heptitis B vaccines we would do without.
o AZT? We use that to treat AIDS? :D~~
o PMS? Yeah... wish we could do something about that.
o Lead still makes great pipes for schools.
o Single course transplant drugs? That would be nice...
o FAS? whuh?
o Puberty is a sin. Really.
o e cause brain my damage? the fudge why?
o Why cure diabetes when you don't even have something for them to take? They'll just die anyways.
o Flu is fun.
o Anthrax vaccine? We need that why now?
o Mmmm, food poisoning. Gimme another rare burger, joe!

So, yeah, if that's what the world is like today, yup. Same spot.
posted by shepd at 12:12 AM on November 17, 2004


I appreciate your cut 'n' paste skills, shepd, but quoting the claims of people who have an entirely vested interest in perpetuating vivisection is hardly a persuasive argument.

No Polio vaccine

The use of primate models delayed the vaccine. Animal research was used, but it had a detrimental effect.

Less AIDS relief

Nope. AZT, protease inhibitors and 3TC were all discovered in vitro. No animals were used.

It's easy to make the claim that vivisection played a part in every medical advance for the last 50 years since the FDA mandates that stage 1 trials be performed on animals. However, that doesn't mean that vivisection is a valid science. It's just a good business scam, really.
posted by cmonkey at 12:52 AM on November 17, 2004


Would you care to back those statements up, cmonkey? And exactly how would you like to test new vaccines and drugs, because people sure aren't going to test them on humans in stage 1, and they certainly aren't going to skip testing either. Plus there's the research into subtle neurological disorders such as Alzheimers and Parkinsons which isn't exactly possible without primates. And of course ditto what shepd said, especially on organ transplants.

I appreciate your cut 'n' paste skills, shepd, but quoting the claims of people who have an entirely vested interest in perpetuating vivisection is hardly a persuasive argument.

So what is a persuasive argument? You're basically saying you won't listen to any argument made by someone who practices animal experimentation. Instead you're only willing to listen to people who are against it. So why bother even talking about it when you've already made your mind up?

Finally, you say that animal experimentation is 'just a good business scam'. You are implying here that scientists are well aware there is no need to experiment on animals and they're just doing it to make money. It's insulting. They do it because there is no other choice (and the government makes sure on that, particularly for primate research) and because they want to advance medicine and relieve suffering.
posted by adrianhon at 2:01 AM on November 17, 2004


Would you care to back those statements up, cmonkey?

"…the work on prevention [of polio] was long delayed by an erroneous conception of the nature of the human disease, based on misleading experimental models of the disease in monkeys." - Albert Sabin

You'll have to look up the history of AZT's development, I can't find a concise link.

Plus there's the research into subtle neurological disorders such as Alzheimers and Parkinsons which isn't exactly possible without primates.

Non human primates don't get Alzheimers or Parkinsons, and their naturally aged brains make a lousy model of the two diseases. So it's not like that research is going to get anywhere with the primates.

You are implying here that scientists are well aware there is no need to experiment on animals and they're just doing it to make money. It's insulting.

Aww, I'm sure they're sobbing all the way to the bank to cash their NIH paycheques and bask in the glow of publishing yet another worthless paper about injecting cocaine into rat fetuses.
posted by cmonkey at 2:57 AM on November 17, 2004


So perhaps primate use for polio held up research; I'll take your word for it. Scientists make mistakes, just like everyone else. What about the others? I don't suppose you mean to say that because of this polio case, all primate and animal research is worthless, or can you find quotes decrying all of it?

Non human primates don't get Alzheimers or Parkinsons, and their naturally aged brains make a lousy model of the two diseases. So it's not like that research is going to get anywhere with the primates.

No, they don't get Alzheimer's or Parkinson's but their brains are the most similar to ours and syndromes highly similar in terms of symptoms and neurological damage can be induced so that possible mechanisms and cures thought to apply to humans can be investigated. Or maybe we should just use in vitro models and ask a bunch of brain cells in a petri dish whether their memory is failing, or if they are having problems coordinating their movements?

Aww, I'm sure they're sobbing all the way to the bank to cash their NIH paycheques and bask in the glow of publishing yet another worthless paper about injecting cocaine into rat fetuses.

I don't see the point in continuing this discussion. Goodbye.
posted by adrianhon at 5:36 AM on November 17, 2004


The slave trade was integral to the US' initial emergence as an industrial power. Therefore, we must continue the slave trade indefinitely.

Same argument.
posted by soyjoy at 6:55 AM on November 17, 2004


The slave trade was integral to the US' initial emergence as an industrial power. Therefore, we must continue the slave trade indefinitely.

Oh good. Well since we have gotten past the point of 'initial emergence' in scientific research, it's ok to suspend all further studies - is that your point?

wait - scratch that. What parallels exactly are there between slaveholding and monkey studies?
posted by jazzkat11 at 7:04 AM on November 17, 2004


What parallels? That they're both seen as "necessary" evils involving the abuse of sentient creatures who are deemed below "us" on some moral scale, for one thing.

But in fact there needn't be any such specific parallels for my point, which is simply that the whole argument is a "post hoc, prompter hoc" fallacy. The fact that animals were used and we wound up with a given drug or cure in no way means that we needed to use the animals in order to come up with that drug or cure.
posted by soyjoy at 7:26 AM on November 17, 2004


The fact that animals were used and we wound up with a given drug or cure in no way means that we needed to use the animals in order to come up with that drug or cure.

Well if that is indeed a 'fact' that the animals were 'not needed', and those scientific studies were of no merit, then I agree with you wholeheartedly.

So is that your assertion, that the studies were of no consequential scientific merit, or were of merit that could have easily been ascertained through monkeyless studies?

there needn't be any such specific parallels for my point, which is simply that the whole argument is a "post hoc, prompter hoc" fallacy

I agree completely. Your argument is the quintessential example of a post hoc fallacy.
posted by jazzkat11 at 7:40 AM on November 17, 2004


Scientists try not to experiment on animals unless they have to. To get permission, you have to fill out all kinds of forms, conform to lots of extra rules, spend some extra money, and demonstrate that you need to work with animals to accomplish your research objectives.

Um, gee, what about the cosmetics industry?

Where would the world be without mascara and eyeliner, right?

I wish I lived in your fantasy land of animal experimentation as a well-legislated last resort.

Let's face it, you folks are just in denial, avoidance of guilt, and desperate attempts at justification.

The reality is tough to deal with, but facing reality is the only way things will ever change.

Acute Toxicity Tests

Acute toxicity tests, commonly called lethal dose or poisoning tests, determine the amount of a substance that will kill a percentage, even up to 100 percent, of a group of test animals.

In these tests, a substance is forced by tube into the animals' stomachs or through holes cut into their throats. It may also be injected under the skin, into a vein, or into the lining of the abdomen; mixed into lab chow; inhaled through a gas mask; or introduced into the eyes, rectum, or vagina. Experimenters observe the animals' reactions, which can include convulsions, labored breathing, diarrhea, constipation, emaciation, skin eruptions, abnormal posture, and bleeding from the eyes, nose, or mouth.(


posted by Shane at 7:50 AM on November 17, 2004


jazzkat11, you need to either reread what I wrote or study up on logic. You may or may not be able to point out flaws in my argument, but those flaws would have nothing to do with "post hoc, prompter hoc." It sounds like you're just trying to say something damning, without any content. If I'm wrong, please explain how that fallacy could possibly be applied to what I've said.

And, no, I neither said that it was a 'fact' that animals were 'not needed' nor that 'the studies were of no consequential scientific merit.' My point was and is that we don't know whether animals were needed, and the fact that they were used does not supply proof that they were needed.

Furthermore, even if one accepted the premise that they were needed at that point in time to achieve those results, that would not prove that they are needed in the future to achieve future results. One might argue that the track record indicates the best probability for success in the future by continuing animal tests, were it not for the many examples of animal testing working directly against success, e.g. in cases like thalidomide and saccharin.
posted by soyjoy at 8:40 AM on November 17, 2004


For the sake of argument, I am willing to concede that animal experimentation may sometimes provide useful results. However, that doesn't tell us whether it's ethical to perform these experiments. Would it be ok to use, say, mentally retarded children for experiments if we could learn useful information? If not, why not? The answers to these questions aren't as simple as you might think.

In any case, there's certainly quite a bit of animal research that's unnecessary, but we do it just because that's the way we've always done things. At the very least, we should try harder to differentiate between necessary and unnecessary animal experimentation.

If animal rights protesters insist on shutting down animal experimentation in the UK, then it will inevitably go to places with worse ethical safeguards such as Thailand.

We can easily apply this argument for all sorts of other things. If child labor protesters insist on shutting down sweatshops in the US, then employers will inevitably go to places with worse ethical safeguards such as Pakistan.
posted by me & my monkey at 9:50 AM on November 17, 2004


>Would it be ok to use, say, mentally retarded children for experiments if we could learn useful information? If not, why not?

No. Why? They're humans. Do I really have to explain it further? I could get into a long drawn out philisophical argument on this, but to put it bluntly, even anti-animal testers kill animals daily. They wash. That's millions of animals killed by them daily. Fortunately, they aren't humans.

>If child labor protesters insist on shutting down sweatshops in the US, then employers will inevitably go to places with worse ethical safeguards such as Pakistan.

True. I'm not certain what your point is. That is what happened, isn't it?

The only difference is that all non-sociopathic humans feel a moral obligation to not harm other humans purposely. However, most humans do not feel the same moral obligation towards animals. This is likely because by the time a human has become an adult, they are killed billions, if not trillions of other animals.
posted by shepd at 11:30 AM on November 17, 2004


Right. It's the same old meeting of the minds here on MeFi.

-----------------------

The question is not, "Can they reason?" nor, "Can they talk?" but rather, "Can they suffer?"
Jeremy Bentham

If we cut up beasts simply because they cannot prevent us and because we are backing our own side in the struggle for existence, it is only logical to cut up imbeciles, criminals, enemies, or capitalists for the same reasons.
C.S. Lewis

The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to the other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creatures that cannot.
Mark Twain, What Is Man, 1906

I abhor vivisection. It should at least be curbed. Better, it should be abolished. I know of no achievement through vivisection, no scientific discovery, that could not have been obtained without such barbarism and cruelty. The whole thing is evil.
Dr. Charles Mayo, founder of the Mayo Clinic

I abhor vivisection with my whole soul. All the scientific discoveries stained with the innocent blood I count as of no consequence.
Mahatma Ghandi

-----------------------

oh boo fucking hoo
posted by rxrfrx at 2:08 PM PST on November 16

...most humans do not feel the same moral obligation towards animals. This is likely because by the time a human has become an adult, they are killed billions, if not trillions of other animals.
posted by shepd at 11:30 AM PST on November 17

Ho hum.
posted by adrianhon at 2:39 PM PST on November 16
posted by Shane at 11:48 AM on November 17, 2004


soyjoy, as for my logic study: I revisited the post-hoc fallacy, and it appears that you are right.

As for something damning being said, I feel more that I am responding to such. Your statement comparing the plight of slaves in the US to the treatment of animals in laboratory tests is at best an appeal to emotion and at worst snarky well poisoning. Inasmuch as someone might ring the discussion ending pavlovian bell of 'well Hitler had the best intentions as well', I find the similarities lacking. Are you implying that slaves were animals, or that animals are suppressed 'sentient' beings who need to join paws in the struggle for equality, the ability to vote, and fairer lending laws in (dog)housing?

And, no, I neither said that it was a 'fact' that animals were 'not needed' nor that 'the studies were of no consequential scientific merit.' My point was and is that we don't know whether animals were needed, and the fact that they were used does not supply proof that they were needed.

Am I wrong to read your assertion as saying that animal testing may not be the best route, therefore we shouldn't use it? While there are obviously viable alternatives, I think it would be a shame to employ wholesale condemnation on practices that are scientifically relative and beneficial, while letting personal beliefs, lack of understanding, or lack of information cloud the subject.

as a bit of an aside, I find it interesting and paradoxical the dichotomy that many people are drawn to animals by a sense of anthropomorphism or human personification. However, many of those folks have no problem with the same experiments being performed on humans, or even worse participating, in the destruction of valuable medical information that could lessen the suffering of many humans. That, I don't understand.
posted by jazzkat11 at 12:26 PM on November 17, 2004


No. Why? They're humans. Do I really have to explain it further? I could get into a long drawn out philisophical argument on this, but to put it bluntly, even anti-animal testers kill animals daily. They wash. That's millions of animals killed by them daily. Fortunately, they aren't humans.

There are so many problems with this paragraph, I hardly know where to begin. I'll start by saying that this demarcation between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom isn't as obvious to everyone else as it is to you. Most people, when they respond to these sorts of issues, tend to differentiate between, say, bacteria and puppy dogs to the point where they might object to my torturing puppy dogs for kicks. But apparently, that's perfectly ok with you since they're not human.

True. I'm not certain what your point is. That is what happened, isn't it?

Yes, and by the logic of the previous poster we therefore should allow child labor everywhere. Is that what you're trying to say?

The only difference is that all non-sociopathic humans feel a moral obligation to not harm other humans purposely. However, most humans do not feel the same moral obligation towards animals. This is likely because by the time a human has become an adult, they are killed billions, if not trillions of other animals.

Do you really believe that people don't feel a moral obligation to avoid harming animals is because they kill microscopic bacteria when bathing? Anyway, I suspect that most people do feel a moral obligation not to harm animals in many cases. Again, it's not socially acceptable to torture puppy dogs. Why do you think this is?

Are you implying that slaves were animals, or that animals are suppressed 'sentient' beings who need to join paws in the struggle for equality, the ability to vote, and fairer lending laws in (dog)housing?

Certainly, those who advocated slavery often justified this using their belief that some races were "less human" than others. As for animals being suppressed sentient beings, this is absolutely true, isn't it? They are suppressed, and they are sentient. They aren't our equals when it comes to sentience, I guess, so we don't have to extend them housing subsidies or the voting franchise, but this doesn't mean it's ok to make them suffer and die for our benefit. I'm sure there are better arguments than this to justify causing their suffering and death, although I may disagree with those arguments.

as a bit of an aside, I find it interesting and paradoxical the dichotomy that many people are drawn to animals by a sense of anthropomorphism or human personification. However, many of those folks have no problem with the same experiments being performed on humans, or even worse participating, in the destruction of valuable medical information that could lessen the suffering of many humans. That, I don't understand.

Are they really drawn to animals by anthropomorphism, or rather by simple empathy? I have a cat, and I like my cat, but I don't confuse him with a person. I wouldn't want to see him in pain though, person or no. I haven't seen any big push by animal rights advocates for human experimentation, either. Finally, is it ok to use ill-gotten gains? Not to go all Godwin here, but would it be a good thing to use the results of Mengele's experiments on twins, assuming that there were any useful data?
posted by me & my monkey at 1:03 PM on November 17, 2004


Your statement comparing the plight of slaves in the US to the treatment of animals in laboratory tests is at best an appeal to emotion and at worst snarky well poisoning.

Obviously, I disagree that it was snarky well-poisoning, but that's open to personal opinion, I guess. What I can tell you is that it's not an appeal to emotion, since I said nothing whatsoever about the 'plight' of slaves - which has nothing to do with my point - and referred only to the arguments being made by those who would either end or continue the slave trade.

To reiterate: Arguing that previous gains from animal testing means that we should continue animal testing is logically equivalent to arguing that gains from the slave trade means that we should continue the slave trade. I find both of these arguments to be specious. There may be other arguments, pro and con, in both cases. I'm only addressing this one.

As me & my monkey pointed out, yes, certainly animals are suppressed and sentient, and of course slaves were animals, as are we all. The rest of your sentence has nothing to do with those facts and seems willfully silly, as though tacking it on would somehow invalidate the truth of the first part.

Let's remember that with analogies, it is only crucial that the relevant parts of the two things being compared are the same; obviously not everything is the same between the two cases, or it wouldn't be an analogy, it would be an identity. This is why in my first comment I said "same argument," not "same situation."

Am I wrong to read your assertion as saying that animal testing may not be the best route, therefore we shouldn't use it?

Well, right or wrong, that's not what I said. In fact I have not made up my mind whether I could ethically stand behind a wholesale condemnation of all animal testing in every case (e.g. given an extreme hypothetical case where it was the only way to save the life of a familly member, etc.), so I don't say "we shouldn't use it." What I do say is that if it's too be used, since it is an extreme and troubling action, we need to have a damn good reason to do so. And "it's been done this way up till now," or "since we were doing it this way and had some successes, this must be the right way to go," is not a good enough argument in its favor.

However, many of those folks have no problem with the same experiments being performed on humans

Now it's my turn to not understand. What tests are being done on animals that we have no problems with being performed on humans?
posted by soyjoy at 2:02 PM on November 17, 2004


Thanks, fenriq. Now I know what to ask for for Christmas.
posted by apis mellifera at 12:43 PM on November 18, 2004


I'm new, but is this about adopting people from that other blog?
posted by rabidsquirrel at 1:23 PM on November 18, 2004


« Older Coffee is Good, Good, Good. Coffee is Bad, Bad, B...  |  MetaFilter: Stop it or you'll ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments